Day two at the North American Handmade Bike Show (NAHBS) brought in a really good crowd. The show was bustling all day with excitement. Stu and I dragged ourselves out of bed after a late night out with our friend Wade, the Vulture of Vulture Cycles who we met up with at the party at Mellow Johnnies, and then headed over to see the lewd and crude and all-around entertaining Mojo Nixon.
We powered through motivated by the enthusiasm for cycling in the air. And after a few technical difficulties on the video end, captured a whole lot of great video that we should be offering up over the next few days–including an over-the-top interlude with Gary Fisher.
With some of our interviews focused on the discussion of integrated accessories, I began to realize that custom builders are in a unique position to critique. As I mentioned yesterday, the intimate relationship between bike builders and customers results in a requirement for a very high level of reliability.
Customers are not only trusting the builder to fit the bike frame to their function, they are often relying on the builder to bring together all aspects of the bicycle, frame, parts and bicycle accessories together into a seamless and long-lasting solution that fits their needs and unleashes their cycling potential.
Whether of not you consider yourself someone who can afford a custom bike, as a bike commuter, you can certainly benefit by observing the bicycle design and accessory choices of the builders.
Custom builders are not known for their proclivity towards trying out unproven parts and accessories. So if you are interested in how a newly designed product performs, it is unlikely that a custom builder has put it on any of their customer’s bikes. Perhaps a few of them may have tried it on their personal ride to test the product if they are highly inspired by it.
But generally what you’ll see on custom bikes are proven parts and accessories that the builder can feel confident putting their name behind. In this direction, I’m interested in the idea of polling the builders at NAHBS as to their favorite parts and accessories. I think this would reveal a very comprehensive list of the most reliable bicycle accessories and parts.
If you are shopping for new bike parts or accessories as well as a complete bike, I recommend taking a look through the coverage of this years NAHBS in this site and beyond–as well as from years past for ideas. At the same time, consider working with a custom bike builder.
While most custom bicycles are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to cost, many of the builders to whom we spoke factored the life of the bike the cost equation. Builders put all of their focus and energy into putting together a bike that fits your needs and will offer durability for a long, long time. The affordability equation shifts in the direction of a custom built bike given the likelihood that the experience of the builder will yield a bicycle that will more than likely be the perfect bike for you for many years to come.
If you are an experienced, mechanically-inclined cyclist, you can easily understand on your own whether or not a custom bike is appropriate for your needs. But if you are new to cycling or aspiring to go from being an occasional bike rider to a regular cyclist, you are a perfect candidate for appreciating the value and benefit of working with a custom builder.
Access to a custom bike builder is a somewhat unique opportunity for any consumer. Many other products that you would use on a regular basis do not readily offer the opportunity for you to work with an expert craftsman to build a product that is perfect for your needs.
How much time do you spend with you computer, your smart phone or your car? Wouldn’t it be nice to have any of these types of products tailored by an expert to be setup specifically for your use? Other products that come to mind that have a plenty of opportunity for the custom touch in most area are custom woodworking and custom homebuilding. As with a bicycle, the amount of time spent in a home and with furniture, certainly makes considering the custom option a worthwhile objective.
As we celebrate the great work of the custom builders at NAHBS, this seems like a great opportunity to appreciate these builders contributions to the cycling industry as leaders in solid, functional bicycle setup and design that we all benefit from in one way or another.